Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Saturday, July 16, 2005

DENR, Zambales sign MOA on forest

By Mark Louie Roxas, MT Central Luzon Bureau

SAN FERNANDO CITY, Pampanga: Environment authorities here and local officials of Zambales on Friday signed a memorandum of agreement to strengthen community-based forestry as a strategy to address the twin problems of poverty and forest degradation and achieve sustainable development in Zambales.

Regidor de Leon, DENR-Central Luzon executive director, said the agreement sets forth the form of cooperation between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the local government in sustainable forest management by empowering communities and local people.

He said the memorandum would strengthen the five-year enhancement of the community-based forest management project, expected to be completed by 2009.

“The task of reversing the trend of forest destruction requires the department to forge creative partnerships with local governments to protect and manage our dwindling forest resources,” de Leon said during a regular session of the Sangguniang Bayan in Botolan.

Under the Local Government Code, local governments are mandated to share with the national government the responsibility in the management and maintenance of ecological balance within their jurisdiction.

Mayor Rogelio Yap of Botolan vowed to provide environment and legislative support to the project to show the support and gratitude of the Zambaleño to the Japanese government and the environment office for selecting the Loob-Bunga.

The 174-hectare Loob-Bunga project site is managed by the Loob-Bunga Settlers Association Inc., a federation of nine people’s organizations of about 1,000 members, mostly Aetas displaced by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991.

Hideki Miyakawa, chief adviser of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, disclosed that only five out of the 22 proposed model sites in Central Luzon met the criteria set by the Japanese government, which include peace and order, political will of the local government to support the project, and the commitment of local communities to the project.

In 2004 the environment department launched the five-year program, which received technical assistance of P250 million from the Japanese government through JICA.

Ricardo Calderon, DENR deputy director for forestry, said the project covers five model sites in Magalang and Sapangbato, Pampanga; General Tinio, Nueva Ecija; and Botolan, Zambales.

This is the second major forestry project of the Japanese government in the Philippines since 1976, the first being the RP-Japan forest development project in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija.


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